6th January 2014

Wow! Winning the GeoVation Challenge

Viv Alexander

As the closing date for the  current GeoVation Challenge to encourage active lifestyles approaches, I thought you’d enjoy this guest post from Gary Downie of  Streetkleen Bio, winners of our Business Environment Challenge.   In his post Gary explains some of the benefits of entering the challenge and what it can lead to.

“It’s  been 6 months  since Streetkleen Bio were announced as a winner of the GeoVation Environmental Challenge.”

“Wow” is the general consensus in the office when I make others aware of this fact….

….But what a 6 months it has been!

Let’s start by looking back….

hindsight
ˈhʌɪn(d)sʌɪt/
noun
1. understanding of a situation or event only after it has happened or developed.

As Founder and Managing Director of Streetkleen Bio Ltd I can honestly say that entering the GeoVation Challenge was one of, if not the single best decision I/we have made as an organisation.

Photo of Gary Downie at Smarta Awards Ceremony

Dr John Walsh and Gary Downie attending the Smarta Awards ceremony at Cafe De Paris in London.

Six months ago we had been developing our ideas from a small garage in North Wales. Our idea of generating renewable energy from municipally collected dog waste was seen by many as a novelty, almost comical to some. However, we had done our research,understood the market requirement for a incentivized solution to the problem of dog fouling/dog waste disposal and remained true to our original idea. One day, out of the blue, our collaborator at Design Wales, Chris Brooker said “You guys should enter a techy competition with this dog waste to energy idea. Have a look at this GeoVation Challenge from Ordnance Survey. It’s based around innovative ideas, collaboration and the use of geographical data to overcome specific community challenges…”. We entered the challenge on 29th April 2013. On 16 May 2013 we were chosen by the judging panel as one of 10 finalists and invited to GeoVation camp on 21 June 2013 – two days later we were confirmed as a winner.

So fast forward six months – what has winning the GeoVation Challenge led to?

As a direct result of winning the GeoVation Challenge we have accomplished the following:

1. We were nominated as one of the Top 100 Most ” Smartest, Disruptive and Innovative” UK Small Businesses by Smarta and O2. Attending a glitzy bash in Central London and subsequently being invited onto the Smarta mentoring network to assist new innovative companies flourish.

2. We have moved into new offices at Glyndwr Universities OpTIC Innovation Centre at St Asaph, North Wales. We have also joined the Welsh Government High Potential Starts Scheme and recently were chosen to enrol with the Industrial Liaison Program giving us access to the boffins at MIT.

3. We are in final discussions with Aylesbury Vale District Council regarding the worlds first commercial anaerobic digestion facility that utilises dog waste as a feedstock. With several other UK Local Authorities also expressing an interest.

4. We have been invited to design a renewable energy system for the developing world that utilises human bio solids. This project, based in Kenya, is still in its infancy however we are already identifying ways in which we can utilise geographical data into our product and service design.

5. We are in the final stages of development of our GeoVation Challenge idea and we hope to launch this geo-spacial innovative idea first quarter 2014.

So, with hindsight – entering, and obviously winning the GeoVation Challenge has given us the credibility, belief and confidence to follow our own innovative ideas to fruition. We have had our eyes opened to the value of geographical data and ways in which it can be used.

Hopefully now you understand why the consensus in the office was WOW when the GeoVation Challenge and what it has meant to us at Streetkleen Bio is brought up.

Happy New Year from all at Streetkleen Bio.

The GeoVation Challenge  runs for a further week and a bit,  to 15 January 2014.  so if you have a great idea on how you can encourage active lifestyles in Britain, please enter your ideas.  As with previous GeoVation Challenges we are looking for great ideas which address the problems using geography, technology and good design. Ordnance Survey will be offering a slice of £100,000 to help develop ventures that make best use of our data, including OS OpenData and OS OpenSpace, together with other open data to solve problems.